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Arkansas dentists show 'mercy' with free dental care | News

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Arkansas dentists show 'mercy' with free dental care

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The Little Rock Statehouse Convention Center will be overflowing this weekend with needy Arkansans seeking immediate dental care.

It's all part of the 5th annual Arkansas Mission of Mercy (ArMOM), a two-day, free dental clinic providing care to more than 6,300 patients.

All services are provided free of charge by members of the Arkansas State Dental Association, assisted by a host of volunteers.

ArMOM provides dental care for the relief of pain to underserved Arkansans, many of whom are from working families who do not have access or cannot afford dental insurance.

Dr. Terry Fiddler with the Arkansas State Dental Association says that everyone is welcome because this truly is a mission of mercy.

"Especially in this economy, you'll see so many people who have the needs for everything," says Dr. Fiddler. "To see those folks stand in line, you know how bad they have the need."

The two-day event will be Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21. Doors will open at 6 a.m. and stay open until 5:30 p.m. both days. There will be parking at Dickey Stephens Park with transportation to the Convention Center. Breakfast and lunch will be provided free of charge.

"The hardest thing they've got to do is show up," says Fiddler.

Last year more than 700 Arkansans, including 120 dentists, volunteered for the event. 1,254 patients received $705,000 in dental care, including 3,000 extractions for the relief of pain. 

For 2011, Fiddler says he expects these numbers to increase, with more than 2,000 patients being seen and at least one million dollars in dental care given out.

Since ArMOM was started in 2007, over 6200 patients have been seen in only eight total clinic days. During that time, 11,606 extractions have been performed and 6,694 teeth filled. These donated procedures were worth an estimated $2.7 million.